2016 Toyota Prius to Offer AWD, Two Battery Options

Toyota powertrain development manager Koei Saga has declared that the fourth-gen Toyota Prius will offer two battery options and all-wheel drive as an optional extra. Even though the Japanese manufacturer has postponed the launch date of the next-gen Prius to December 2015, the plug-in hybrid model is shaping up to be way more complex than ever before.
Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid 1 photo
Photo: Toyota
In a recent correspondence with Automotive News, Mr. Saga hinted that the upcoming eco-friendly hatchback will be offered with a choice of two battery options – a nickel-metal hybride (Ni-Mh) pack similar in design to the one employed in the current Toyota Prius, with the addition of an optional all-new lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery likely to offer a higher power density for better range.

Toyota's senior managing officer in charge of powertrain development said “I think we will possibly do it,” without offering any additional details. Nevertheless, many voices hint that the re-engineered hybrid powertrain will be the first taste of things to come from the Japanese carmaker's green motoring efforts. “The batteries will be renewed,” Saga concluded. “Everything will be revised, and I think we will come up with fuel economy that will surprise everyone.” Pretty bold statements right here, alright.

For the all-new generation Toyota Prius marketed under the 2016 model year, engineers are developing a modular platform known as TNGA or Toyota New Global Architecture, which some say it will cut the new model's curb weight by nearly 20 percent compared to the outgoing model. Under the hood, the upcoming Prius will certainly get a new-generation gasoline mill which will boast more thermal efficiency than the current unit – 42 percent compared to the actual mill's 38.5 percent.

Details are still scant about the electric motor, but we expect that the 2016 Toyota Prius will push its fuel economy over the 55 mpg mark or 10 percent better efficiency than the current model. This purely subjective presumption is based on the fact that Prius mpg figures have improved on average by about 10 percent generation-over-generation to date. As if that wasn't enough, a new power electronics chip using silicon carbide as the substrate might be on the menu as well, while Toyota Motor Sport team principal Yoshiaki Kinoshita told a little while back that supercapacitor technology may be added to the mix.
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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